Dancing Queen

A sample chapter from my WIP Alone (working title). This chapter is not edited yet.

Atticus, the elf guard, slowed his horse as they reached the town square. He dismounted. “My princess,” he said, holding a hand out to help her down.

As soon as she touched his hand, she felt a familiar tingle circulate through her blood. Atticus was handsome, but what she found attractive in him was that he seemed similar to Max. Though the two looked mostly different, she saw reflections of Max in Atticus. Maybe it was the way he held himself or maybe it was the smile. But she was certain it was his eyes. It was strange looking into the castle guard’s eyes. They were different to Max’s but somehow slightly similar. At times she felt that it was Max, but just in a different form.

Atticus brought her in close to keep him and her balanced as she dropped from the steed. Their eyes met and she could see that strange twinkling of Max within Atticus’ eyes.

“It’s about time you two showed up,” a voice whined.

Guard and princess twirled at the sound.

“Minion!” gasped Aleya.

“It’s Min-yon,” he groaned in frustration. Now away from the Wizard, Min-yon dropped the fake lisp, stood straight, and spoke with his New Jersey accent. His fake hump swished and bobbed as he approached Aleya. Atticus drew his sword and jumped between the villain and the damsel. “Oh please.” Min-yon threw a pouch which exploded on contact with the sword. Suddenly, the sword was a duck. The guard yelped and dropped the duck.

“I’m not going anywhere with you,” Aleya sneered.

“Listen, I know you’re going through a hard time,” said Min-yon. “You’re boyfriend got banished to an escapable labyrinth and you find out that the Wizard has been masquerading as your father for…” Min-yon’s head bobbed for a bit. “…a long time. So let’s just call it a day. You come along quietly and I will lock you up in the castle’s tallest tower for all eternity.”

Aleya narrowed her eyes. “Not a chance. You have no power here. You’re just a flunky of the Wizard.”

“True he did provide me with a few magical items, but that doesn’t mean I have no magic.” Aleya and the guard stepped back as Min-yon began to bounce his hand up and down like he was dribbling an invisible basketball. Boom-boom-tap-tap. Boom-boom-tap-tap. Suddenly, an orange and black flaming ball appeared at Min-yon’s side as he continued to dribble it. “Think fast.” He quickly tossed it at Aleya.

Aleya dodged the ball by executing a twirling-leap. She landed perfectly with her knees bent and feet crossed. One arm was near her chest and the other in the air. Her mouth widened into an “O” as forgotten memories returned. Before she’d been selected to aid Max in his quest, her magic was dance. But a warrior doesn’t dance. She gave it up in order to complete her training. But for some reason it was back. Some part of her knew it was because Max had made her happy. He accepted her as she was. She had magic besides the spells of a bodyguard.

Min-yon dribbled another fireball into existence. This time he added some spice to it by bouncing it low to the ground and moving it in a figure eight between his legs. He finally spun it out to Aleya. She blocked it with a pirouette, sending it back at him.

Min-yon caught it with ease and shifted it to a finger. He spun it with a smirk on his face. Hypnotic flashes emanated from the ball. Atticus’ eyes grew in amazement at Min-yon’s skill.

 Aleya countered with a movement of The Charleston followed by a dose of sparkling Jazz Hands. Min-yon groaned as the flash of Jazz Hands momentarily blinded him. “GAH!” he cried. “Your moves! They’re over 9,000!” Aleya didn’t understand the meme reference. (She knew Max and Ryan would though.) She finished off her routine with a spin into the classic disco pose. A wave of energy exploded out from her knocking Min-yon to the ground.

Atticus stared at her like a caught bass. She motioned her head towards the horse. He finally regained his composure and the two headed for the mount.

But Min-yon was not to be deterred. Out of nowhere, he blocked their exit looking much like an NBA athlete stopping an offensive player. “You’re my paycheck, lady. You aren’t going anywhere.”

Aleya moved closer to the horse, who seemed not interested in the affairs of humanoids. Min-yon blocked her again. She stepped to the side, but he was there again. She moved backwards, and he went forwards. She moved forwards; he moved backwards. Together they moved to the left then to the right. Slowly, music began to fill the air. A moment later, Min-yon found himself embracing Aleya. They stared into each other’s eyes. His hand was on the small of her back; she held his shoulder.

Min-yon let out a small gasp. “The Tango.”

The music swelled; the two jerked their arms to the side and danced across the town square…cheek-to-cheek. After a few steps, the two switched arms so that they could dance back the way they’d come.

Min-yon gave her a little dip. “You really are an excellent dancer.”

She gave a smile worthy of the Mona Lisa. “I know.”

The two continued their Tango back across the square; but when they reached the end, Aleya surprised Min-yon with a spin. He spun and spun; and when he stopped, he’d been transformed into a small, white rabbit.

“Now,” said Aleya bending down in a threatening way, “tell us how to free Max.” The rabbit laughed out a “no.” “Tell us or I won’t change you back.”

The rabbit once again laughed. “I work for the Wizard. This is hardly the first time I’ve ever been transmogrified. Once, I spent an entire week as mold.” The rabbit then spun in a circle three times before laying down. In a poof of smoke, the rabbit became Min-yon. Aleya gasped. “Like I said: I’ve been the Wizard’s minion for a long time. I’ve picked up a few things—like how spinning in a circle three times before lying down counteracts all hexes and enchantments.” He smirked like some jock about to shove a nerd in a locker. “Why do you think animals do it all the time?”

With a fast flick, Min-yon raised his arm. “Besides, I have an Ace up my sleeve.” He then removed an Ace card from his sleeve and flung it at Aleya. She didn’t have to try hard to dodge it. She was not the real target. The card landed at the feet of Atticus and the horse. There was a BAM and smoke. When the commotion cleared, Atticus sat in a red Convertible dressed in a letterman’s jacket and jeans. He looked very confused. As did Aleya.

“Witch! Witch!” Min-yon began screaming. People poked their heads out of their homes. A crowd began to form. “Witch!” Min-yon continued to yell. “The princess is a witch! See? She owns a blood carriage and a demon-spawn servant! Just look at his garments!”

“Scandalous,” said an older woman.

“How do we know it is true?” asked someone.

“Some random person is yelling it in the town square,” answered another, “it must be true.”

The crowd began tossing rotten tomatoes at Aleya.

“Quick,” said Atticus opening the passenger door, “get in.”

Aleya hopped into the “horseless carriage.” Atticus slammed on the gas and the car peeled out. Min-yon chuckled as the car sped away.

A few minutes later, the duo was clear of the crowd. Atticus turned to Aleya for a moment before returning his attention to what passed as a road. She noticed that the glimmer of Max in his eyes was somehow more pronounced now. “I’m not sure what’s going on or how I got here,” he said, “but I know a damsel in distress when I see one.” He gave Aleya a quick nod. “The name’s Ace. Ace Journeyman.”

Joe Rover eBooks are available at Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and many other online retailers.

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